Recently, worldwide attention has been on Sweden’s forced sterilization law for transgender people, making an unnecessary operation compulsory before a sex change. It was eventually forced to abandon the law after international protests.
But there are laws forcing sterilization on transgender people in 16 other countries in Europe.
For women, such practices are widely believed to be historic (or maybe just happening in China). Last year there was widespread reporting of the eugenics-inspired sterilization of, up until 1977, over 7,600 people in North Carolina — including girls raped by older men, individuals with epilepsy, individuals determined to be “feeble-minded,” teenagers from poor families, a 10-year-old boy, and individuals with disabilities including blindness. The state’s actions were just the most aggressive of 32 states which pursued sterilization policies mainly targeting black and native Americans.
But such thinking still remains in the 21st century. Forced sterilization continues to be a serious problem worldwide.
There has been a major scandal about ongoing forced sterilization of disabled women in Australia.
The Age reports that involuntary sterilizations on women and girls with disabilities were found to be widespread in 2001, the last time sterilization was researched by Women With Disabilities Australia, and also in 1997, when the Human Rights Commission last examined the issue. Courts are supposed to be involved but some doctors are ignoring them.
Disability advocate Stella Young told the ABC that she was almost sterilized as a young child.
“When I was four I was on holiday with my parents in Adelaide and I broke my leg while I was there and they took me to the hospital and they re-set my leg,” she told PM.
“One of the doctors said to them, ‘while she’s here we might as well do the hysterectomy,’ which was shocking because I was a four-year-old child.
“My parents thankfully were very empowered and didn’t take everything that doctors said to be gospel truth and they got me out of there as quickly as possible.”
Sterilizations Across the Globe
In 2010, Suzannah Phillips wrote for Care2 on the coercive sterilization of HIV+ women in Chile.
In Thailand, there have been serious allegations of sterilization of tribal Akha women carried out by American fundamentalist Christian missionaries.
In Czechoslovakia, a 2005 report found many examples of coercive sterilization of mostly Romani women.
A study on policy in Europe also found that:
In many countries, the practice of forced sterilisation continues to be debated and justified by governments, legal, medical and other professionals, family members and carers as being in the “best interests” of women and girls with disabilities.
And a medically implanted contraceptive, Norplant, continues to be forced on poor women and drug-using women deemed not worthy of reproductive freedom in many American states.
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